Book Review: How to Hang a Witch (#1) by Adriana Mathers

© Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2016.


It’s the Salem Witch Trials meets Mean Girls in a debut novel from one of the descendants of Cotton Mather, where the trials of high school start to feel like a modern day witch hunt for a teen with all the wrong connections to Salem’s past.

Salem, Massachusetts is the site of the infamous witch trials and the new home of Samantha Mather. Recently transplanted from New York City, Sam and her stepmother are not exactly welcomed with open arms. Sam is the descendant of Cotton Mather, one of the men responsible for those trials and almost immediately, she becomes the enemy of a group of girls who call themselves The Descendants. And guess who their ancestors were?

If dealing with that weren’t enough, Sam also comes face to face with a real live (well technically dead) ghost. A handsome, angry ghost who wants Sam to stop touching his stuff. But soon Sam discovers she is at the center of a centuries old curse affecting anyone with ties to the trials. Sam must come to terms with the ghost and find a way to work with The Descendants to stop a deadly cycle that has been going on since the first accused witch was hanged. If any town should have learned its lesson, it’s Salem. But history may be about to repeat itself.

Via Goodreads


In order to combat my reading slump, I’ve been binge listening to a lot of audio books. Yesterday, I finished How to Hang a Witch by Adriana Mather. I didn’t see the term historical fiction used to describe it, however I feel that it’s a suiting genre considering what the author reveals to us in the afterward.

How to Hang a Witch is read by Mather as well, and I find her voice to be quite suiting for the main character. Then again, the main character seems to be an version of herself that is relevant to the story. With characters that are primarily in high school, it works quite well. I will admit, and this has affected my rating a bit, that it takes some time to get used to Mather’s voice.

The plot doesn’t have a slump and this is important to many readers – myself included. I hate hate hate when I encounter a bunch of prose that is simply unnecessary. It’s the same way I view purple prose, too. It’s also a fairly typical “teenage girl most stop evil villain from killing innocents” sort of scenario. Such plots aren’t a problem, especially when it comes to young adult literature, but it’s easy to rely too heavily on.

I liked the historical side of this book the most. In fact, if I find the time too, I’ll probably do some research. Admittedly, the sole reason I grabbed this one is because it was 1) available to borrow immediately and 2) is the first in the series – I’m really more interested in the second book, as it deals with the titanic.

The characters are, with the exception of the main characters, extremely flat. The Descendants are pretty much all the same, which I found to be disappointing. Then again, this kind of clique is part of what makes Mean Girls so appealing and, if you’re a fan of that movie, you’ll likely love this witchy tale.

Rating: 💀💀💀

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